Hello. My name is Tiffany Colvert, and I would like to share some ideas on how to write a better sales email and how to effecti—
Okay, stop. Just stop.
Most sales emails suck. They especially suck if they are cold prospecting emails. They get sent out with hopes and dreams, and then delete, delete, delete. People seem to have less time than ever to rummage through their inboxes. As a result, status quo just won’t cut it.
You have to use your words to dazzle and delight and cut through the mediocrity of the millions of emails that get sent out. A well written and engaging sales email can make all the difference. So, it is time to channel that creative writing class you took in college and begin to craft emails with stronger persuasive flair and personality.
Are you ready?
Great! But first, please know that even though this post is centered around the “sales email” you can just as easily apply these same techniques to DM someone about a collaboration, when emailing a potential new employer or reaching out to your favorite author or blogger for advice. While some people may not like to call those things “selling” the fact of the matter is it is selling. However, for the purpose of this post feel free to substitute “sales email” for whatever makes you feel most comfortable. You do you.
When it comes to a sales email, there are a handful of approaches to prevent your prospects eyes from glazing over. Let’s spend a little time diving into each.
(Side note: a few of these elements sprinkled in your email is great. Dumping them all in, not so great).
Before I elaborate on each, you need to understand one of the cornerstones of why people buy. It boils down to this: People buy things to either avoid pain or get pleasure. Said another way: People buy when something hurts or when they want to feel better. Keep this in the back of your mind always.
OK, let’s continue.
People pay attention to stories. That is why we love to read, go to the movies and binge watch tv. Stories make us feel something. They get us to connect and engage.
If you can weave your pitch into an engaging story you will be miles ahead of your competition.
Take a look at these two sales email examples, one without storytelling and one with:
I am selling a 16-week master class on how to increase your Instagram followers. The course is $299. Would you have any interest in signing up?
You know how when you are enjoying the perfect cup of coffee, scrolling and commenting on Instagram and then look up from your phone and you’re like “WOW, where has the time gone?” Trust me when I say I have been there, and I’ve wasted more time than I’d like to admit trying to grow my Instagram.
That is why I created a one-week time-saving Instagram Masterclass to grow your audience and engagement. Can I count you in? Click here to learn more and sign up.
Which do you like better? That’s the power of storytelling.
Why it works:
- It was personalized
- No novel here- it just created a picture through a brief narrative
- The reader could step in and be a part of the story
- It touched on a pain point
- There was a solution and a call to action
- It had a villain and a hero
Speaking of villains and heroes, to tell a good story you need a villain and a hero. Now, I am not talking about Simba and Scar.
Think more subtle. I am talking about everyday ones. For example:
Villain | Hero
Headache | Aspirin
An Early Morning | Coffee
Instagram Time Suck | Instagram Master Class
Your Prospects Problem | Your Product
Storytelling is magic. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Be entertaining but keep it relevant
- Make it personal and relatable
- Use narrative to create visual imagery
- Keep it short
Next up, humor. People love to laugh. The problem is that people often take sales, and themselves, too seriously, too often. For that reason, a shot of unexpected lighthearted humor can make you stand out and sell more.
Case in point:
“Can I pretend to have your attention for just a few moments? In the highly unlikely event that the captain lands us near a hot tub, everybody gets their very own teeny-weeny yellow Southwest bikini. And for those of you travelling with your children …why? ”
One of my favorite books, The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact, outlines the success of Southwest’s funny flight safety announcements. Not only did this small fun tweak to the mundane delight passengers, it boosted their company loyalty and it has been said to add an additional $140 million dollars a year in revenue!
It also helps you to not sound like a robot (“Hey, you’re a human too!”) and it adds to your overall likability. Here are a few ways that you can inject some humor into your sales email:
- Use funny and varied word choice:
- Use a bucketload instead of a lot
- Try scamper or skedaddle instead of hurry
- Pinky promise instead of guarantee
- When in doubt, pull out a thesaurus.
- Throw some GIFs around- visual humor can make a big impact. A video, gif, or a meme can really drive home a point in a fun way. Make sure it is relevant though.
- Add in a metaphor or analogy
- If __________ makes you feel as lost as last year’s Eater egg…
- _________ so tough it would make the Rock jealous
- Easier than assembling an Ikea bookcase
- ____ without ___ is like summer without a Bomb Pop
- ____ will seem faster than Usain Bolt in a Wiener Dog Race
You get the idea.
Remember, humor must be authentic to you. It also takes time to develop. Pay attention to what makes you chuckle, draw similarities to your products and services from something relatable, use specifics and have fun.
A word of caution, humor isn’t for everyone. Read the room. If you are selling mortuary services this tactic is probably not for you, even if your customers are dying to see you. (Ba Dum Tss!)
In all seriousness, humor lowers resistance & increases attention. Use it wisely.
Another great tool to grab out of the email enchantment tool box is a cliffhanger. Cliffhangers keep your readers reading. A perfect tactic for any sales email. It creates curiosity. The same way Ross blurted out Rachel’s name during the vows at his wedding to Emily and we had to wait a whole week that seems like years to see what Emily said after being asked: “Should I go on?”
Sooo, that’s THREE 1990’s based GIFs in case your counting.
Cliffhangers work great as subject lines and about midway thought your email.
Here are some examples for each:
- Subject Lines
- 5 Things You’d Never Know About
- This. Is. It.
- Have you heard?
- Don’t do these 3 things
- The phone is lava
- The secret to ______is…
- The #1 question I get asked…
- Can I be honest with you?
- You NEED to see this!
I mean who wouldn’t want to open these to read more?! I am dying to know more.
Get creative and don’t give away exactly what you’re going to talk about. However, your subject line MUST relate to what you are talking about- it can’t be arbitrary for the sake of getting attention.
Need help with more subject line ideas? I’ve got you covered right here!
- Mid Email (insert between two sections/paragraphs)
- You are probably wondering:
- Little did I/she/we know how important this would be.
- So, what to do next…
- But that is just part of the story.
- Want to know the best part?
Yes, tell me more! I think this technique mid-email has is called “Bucket Brigade” if you care to read up on it. It is an effective tool that says one thing: keep reading.
Don’t overuse cliffhangers- you’ll come across as annoying and spammy. But a perfectly placed one will cut through like a hot knife on butter.
I’ve sent plenty of emails to prospective clients and customers that resulted in zero response. Crickets. But I’ve learned a trick that does work, and I want to share it with you.
The trick is: connection
Give your prospects a relatable reason why they should want to connect with you. Otherwise, who cares? The trash can, maybe.
This requires (a little) research. I like to start with LinkedIn, then cover all the bases: check their Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, skim their blog, google their name, etc.
Find a connection, a commonality. Show them that you’ve done your homework.
When finding a reason to connect, look for things like:
- A mutual friend or colleague- “You know Dave? Holy cannoli!”
- Hometown, Alma Mater – “Go Wildcats!”
- Recent awards or achievements – “Congrats on …”
Call out the connection early on. It is much more difficult to ignore a cold email if it’s from someone who you share something in common with.
Plus, connection adds creditably.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume you know that starting a cold email with “Dear Sir” isn’t going to do much. To further the connection, make the email personal. Use their actual name, for instance.
“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie
Use their name in the subject line, throw in a “Don’t you agree, Jen?” Think ultra-personalization.
Personalization increases open rates by 26%
Showing that you care and taking the time to find a real connection will not only help you get an email response, but it very well may turn into a real-life connection and friendship, so don’t skip this part.
Piggybacking on connection, flattery is another great way to help your sales email stand out.
But first, drop the BS.
Most people can see artificial flattery accompanied obvious ulterior motives a mile away. It has to be real and it can’t be overdone.
A sales email should demonstrate that you took an interest in the prospect before pitching your product. You can do this by flattering the prospect honestly and genuinely.
Go back to your research. Was there an article they wrote that you loved, is their Instagram page visually stunning? Mention it and be specific. Further, did you watch their webinar and then follow up buy purchasing or downloading something of theirs to learn more. Share what action you took after.
Equally, you can flatter someone by asking for their opinion about something they are interested in. In other words, not your product or service. Then, tie it all together.
As soon as a potential customer catches on that your email is in fact a sales email, they will head directly to the delete button. To avoid that fate, you can call it out and be transparent about your messaging. Don’t tip toe around it like you’re in a field of Legos.
This might surprise you, but this is another #coldemail. I know, right?! But listen….
I know sales emails can be a bit awkward so here is a picture of our company dog to break the ice. Now that we are friends let me ask you a question…
Above all, let your prospect know what you want. A vague “I would love 15 minutes of your time to chat” isn’t going to get many people to block off time on their busy schedules. Be upfront, get to the point and be specific about your intentions.
Clear beats clever (but sometimes you can do both).
Being transparent will be a breath of fresh air in your prospect’s inbox.
Okay, What’s next?
Now that you have what you need to engage with your prospect/reader- here is a quick checklist to use before you send your sales email off to the world.
Keep it short. Weed out any unnecessary jargon. Trim the fat. Being direct saves everyone time.
Call to Action
You’ve put a ton of work into crafting a sales email that will hopefully persuade your someone to engage with you further. Now you want to be sure they know exactly what to do in response to your email. Include a question at the end of your message that will give the prospect a reason to respond.
Are you offering value? What is in it for the prospect? Make the value proposition clear. How can you help them? Moreover, what can you do in this particular email to add value? Share a useful article, make an introduction, give something away.
Most importantly, express gratitude. Gratitude is more powerful than we realize. A simple “Thanks so much for your time” can go a long way.
Don’t just rely on your default spell check, re-read your email for grammatical errors and PLEASE make sure you’ve spelled your prospect’s name and company correctly. If I get an email addressing Tiffani, Tifanee or Tiffeny it will go in the trash faster than I can finish a grapefruit shandy on a hot day.
Seriously. Follow up. Don’t assume they are ignoring you on purpose. Your email may just be buried- you need to dig it out. I recommend giving it 2 or 3 days before you shoot over a follow up email. Give them a little nudge but have patience. Understand that you are building a relationship, yes, you are sending a sales email, but it is so much more than that.
Whew…That was a lot, so let’s do a quick recap on this:
Use one or two of these techniques to craft an engaging email:
Then, check to make sure you have done the following:
- Kept it short.
- Included a call-to-action
- Added value
- Expressed gratitude
- Followed Up
Bonus: Pay attention what emails you open and the ones you delete- what can you learn from them? There is really nothing ninja about it. Test out your emails and change them up until you get results.
A great sales email can be powerful. They can make you memorable. Take the time to master it.
What techniques do you use in your sales emails? What’s the best sales email you have ever received? Share your ideas with me over on LinkedIn.